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Exploring discourse and ideology through corpora


Edited By Miguel Fuster Márquez, José Santaemilia, Carmen Gregori-Signes and Paula Rodríguez-Abruñeiras

This book explores discourse mainly through corpus linguistics methods. Indeed, Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies has become a widely used approach for the critical (or non-critical) analysis of discourses in recent times. The book focuses on the analysis of different kinds of discourse, but most particularly on those which attempt to unveil social attitudes and values. Although a corpus methodology is deemed crucial in all research found here, it should not be inferred that a single, uniform technique is applied, but a wide variety of them, often shaped by the software which has been used. Also, more than one (qualitative or quantitative) methodology or drawing from various relevant sources is often called for in the critical analysis of discourses.

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Debating Saudi womanhood: A corpus-aided critical discourse analysis of the representation of Saudi women in the Twitter campaign against the ‘Male Guardianship’ system: Nouf Alotaibi and Jane Mulderrig

Nouf Alotaibi and Jane Mulderrig


In Saudi Arabia, the law stipulates that no political parties, civil society organisations or marches are allowed. However, the impact made by social media sites during the 2011 Arab Spring made women’s rights activists realize that they too could benefit from the power of social media to bring about socio-political change. It offered a public platform on which to highlight and contest the unequal social status of women in Saudi society. As a consequence, numerous social media campaigns have been launched by Saudi women (e.g. ‘Women2Drive’, ‘Saudi Women Revolution’, ‘Baladi’ [My Country]1). Arguably the most high-profile of these has been the #EndMaleGuardianshipSystem Twitter campaign which, since its inception in 2016 has sparked widespread public debate about the Male Guardianship System (hereafter MGS), whereby Saudi women’s freedoms and decision-making powers are subordinated to those of a male relative. This chapter presents a corpus-aided critical analysis of the linguistic strategies employed in that campaign.

Saudi Arabia applies the Hanbali School doctrine to the interpretation of Islamic texts (Commins 2006). One of its regulations that has been enforced rigorously is the male ‘guardianship’ of women. According to the Hanbali School, this regulation applies in just two cases: within marriage and when travelling (al-Zuhayli 1999). However, the male guardianship system was extended to other institutions (e.g. universities, hospitals and so forth) in the 1980s, with the result that Saudi women are treated as legal minors, positioned as second-rate citizens and subjected to unprecedented legal restrictions. Under this system, a Saudi woman...

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